Saturday, June 12, 2010

Department of Customer Service

This web log began as something entirely private and personal. Having recently left academia (both as student and teacher), I found that my reading had become entirely passive, since there was no need to criticize, interpret, or present the material. The original intention of this blog was simply as a depository for reading notes. I gradually accumulated readers, then got a big boost when I got an endorsement from my friend Patrick Barnes at the Orthodox Christian Information Center and a couple of other blogs. My daily readership has remained pretty steady at a little over 300 people a day.

Now that I have readers, I feel an obligation to provide daily content. I get very little feedback in either comments or emails, however, and therefore don’t have much of an idea of how people respond to the blog. To help me to make this site better, I’d be very grateful if readers could let me know, either in the comments below or by email what it is they like and what it is they don’t like. What do you actually read, and what do you simply scan? Do you like the questions and answers with Fr Job (I still have about 975 to go!)? Would you like more translations, or more book summaries/reviews? More from myself? Please, really, do let me know.

Now, to the reading group. For reasons that I can’t entirely comprehend, it hasn’t really taken off. But this week we’ll be looking at Metropolitan Anthony’s “Dogma of Redemption,” which is the essay that everybody talks and argues about. So if you have a copy of the book (or can read Russian) and haven’t been actively participating, now’s a good time to start.

I eagerly await your comments, whether positive or negative!


BW said...

I think the biggest reason your blog is so popular is because of *you*. My advice is to refrain from posting content based on the way the wind blows and simply present Orthodox Christianity in the way you have been for some time now.

John Martin said...

I agree with BW. Your posts so far are all worth reading (and re-reading!).

papayianni said...

Yes customer service is excellent! As I have mentioned previously this is one of few the Orthodox blogs(2 or 3) I read daily and if I miss a day I'll go back and read what was missed.

The content I think is very good if not excellent. There's always something for someone. Theology, Orthodox news, a life of a saint (past or current), literature, book reviews, photos, iconography, even a little humor and the list goes on. Does it need to change? I don't think so. It's great the way it is.

As for the discussion on Metropolitan Antony's book, for me it was/is heavy difficult reading and I would have done better with a classroom setting, or a group meeting together but I know many mile separate us all. There are other's who I'm sure who loved it. As I wrote "something for everyone." Fr. Job's "Questions and Answers" informative and helpful - good for clergy and laity alike.
I like the personal anecdotes, perhaps that is why I like the biograhies along with the saints writings connected with some issue the best. It's all excellent so please keep it coming (but only as your health allows). May the Lord bless your efforts and you and give you good health.
A most excellent blog!

Fr. John Routos (Papayianni)

John Morehead said...

Here at St. George's Mission Station in Edenton, N.C. (Diocese of the South), having a priest only once a month, other weeks we need good homilies for the Sunday, from which to choose one to deliver during the Typica; and so I've greatly appreciated the opportunity here to find homilies, or links to them, for the upcoming Sunday. Thanks very much! - John Morehead, warden & lay reader.

Joe said...

I like your translation work book reviews and some of your own thoughts. I like it all.

Esteban Vázquez said...

Everything is great. Change nothing.

Taylor said...

I appreciate the translations from Russian, especially the 'Questions and Answers' section with Fr. Job. Anything from the larger Orthodox world is welcome material to me, as our American Orthodoxy sometimes suffers from too little insight from the larger church. Thank you!

papayianni said...

I neglected to say the most important. THANK YOU!


margaret said...

I like the Q&A with Fr Job, the book reviews and the translations. If I was to start reading in Russian I might celebrate the end of chapter one on Christmas day so I am grateful for what others will translate for me. I have been reading the posts about Metropolitan Anthony's book but unfortunately I couldn't order it in time to join in being on t'other side of the big pond.
And, to echo Papayianni, thank you.

Marlon said...

This website is a benchmark. I check it everyday and it very edifying for a convert like myself. Thank you so very much for your labors!!

Mark Montague said...

I second everything Taylor said - he read my mind. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to keep up with the reading group; everything is on hold until I finish my thesis.

Anonymous said...

I really like just about everything. I skip the Reading Group posts because I knew I couldn't commit the time to keep up with the reading and then comment. It also seemed a little to abstruse for where I'm at right now - and possibly a little too pointed.

In a one person blog, what you want is a mix of materials that help you to get to know the person responsible for their choice for inclusion. I think we get that, and we like what we see. It's probably actually better than meeting in person in that the content is more focused - in person one gets as caught up in the pleasantries as anything else and conversation topics become shallower. Not so in blog format.

I very much like Fr. job's Q&As, but I like the rest, too. I am especially interested in a 'traditionalist's' view on academic and theological matters, on avitriolic reflections on various streams of thought within Orthodoxy (e.g., your review of Plekon's book, your review of the bios on Met Anthony and St. John of Kronstadt).

Personally, I would like a window into the Church in Western Europe, reflections from today's perspective on 20th century Orthodoxy (ROCOR and not), as well as on monasticism (daily routine, struggles, a personal view in), etc.

Anonymous said...

Be as you are. We are fortunate to have you.

Anonymous said...

How to make the site better is good question? At an average of over 300 hits per day we’re not in the area of how to make a successful blog. With these bare facts alone it seems as though something is already being done to the satisfaction of many even though you receive few comments. Perhaps it’s best if we don’t comment. Even 100 questions or comments would deprive us of valuable posts in light of having to answer these questions.

I enjoy the translations, whether it is of Fr. Job or others. I think this is a humongous offering to us English (only)-speaking Orthodox. In light of Fr. Seraphim (Rose’s) work I’ve always found this to be a valuable need. I have a list of books I would like translated from the Russian if your were looking for something to do in your spare time: Archimandrite Kyprian Kern, Ivan Kierevsky, etc. 

The book reviews are priceless – clear, concise and insightful. Whether we agree or disagree there is much to consider in light of the comments made and we learn what the arguments must be in order to overcome in discussion. A good example is in this comment thread . It’s not a book review, but you don’t let us make general comments without dealing with the issues.

For some reason the reading group doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground. Perhaps it is just the medium unless someone else thinks that there might be a better book to be reading together. I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea but never caught on.

I, personally, would like a continuation from your post here regarding Dr. Payton’s book ( ) as well as putting the finishing touches on this series of posts

At the end of the day, in agreement with all of the other comments, THANK YOU. Reading this blog has never been a waste of my time and has only been to my betterment and other contours of my being. With deep felt appreciation, or however one can express this through a blog comment, THANK YOU.

Pray for us.


David.R said...

I would like to read more translations of material from the rich Orthodox Russian oral and written tradition, lives of saints, hymns, etc especially if this material is not available in English.

maureen said...

I am a fairly new reader of your blog and agree with several others that it is fine just as it is.
If I had to pick a favourite subject area - it would be book reviews and translations from the Russian.
Thank you for all your hard work on this -

DebD said...

Agreeing with your blog. I'm not particularly interested in book club readings but others seem to receive a lot of edification from them. Your book reviews have been quite valuable. I'm setting aside your review of "Theology of Illness" for a bit. I've had that book on my shelves for some time and keep meaning to read it.

gregory said...

Keep up the good work. It is much appreciated.

Two suggestions:

1) perhaps include a hyperlink on Fr Job's name every now and again, to a post or website that tells us a bit about who he is. Who is he?

2) perhaps include a bit of rudimentary data about yourself in your profile: where are you originally from? where do you live now? in the US? what is your line of work? what jurisdiction are you a part of? where did you study theology? I think I've pieced some of this together over time, but I'm still not sure about some of it, and it's helpful information, esp. when recommending the site.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

You're doing a splendid job. Don't change a thing. I very much enjoy the Q&A with Fr Job. One wonders at the things people ask, sometimes....

Prayers for your health are always ascending.

Anonymous said...

It is a good mix, Father. I read and learn every day. The translations are especially appealing, as are the aggregations of homilies and commentaries for each Sunday.

Many thanks for sharing the fruits of your selfless labors. May our merciful Lord grant you good strength!

Your prayers.

Father Sava